Graphical Construction Glossary >> Tools. >> Hand Tools >> Drawknife

In woodworking, two handed tool for shaping mainly in the round or curved sections. Used by wheelwrights, coopers, boat builders and others.
A purpose made seat or bench to hold the material while using a draw knife. The main details being that the worker sits down and uses his feet to control the gripping of the material. Also known as a Draw-knife Bench
A person who makes or made wooden barrels.
A person who makes or made wooden wheels.

a drawknife about 12 inch cut

draw knife

The tool is an overgrown version a spokeshave with the handles at right angles to the cutting edge instead of parallel. The two tools would be used together in many shops.

It has a slightly convex edge so depending on how it is held it can produce slightly convex, flat or round surfaces.

It is a basic tool for roughing out curved or round shapes quickly. Used particularly by wooden boat builders and in the past by coopers and wheelwrights.

The photograph below is of a bench that is used for doing draw knife work. The worker would sit facing left and use his feet to clamp the work piece via the curved swinging section. This would make it very easy to move the work piece about, unlike say if the work was held in a vise.

Incidentally, the bench itself is an example of draw knife work.

A small shavehorse
A small shavehorse showing detail how the work is held.
Photo thanks to Wikimedia Commons, User: Simon Speed

Using a drawknife requires both hands, and at the same time the work has not only to be held down firmly but because of the normal nature of the work it has to be moved to other positions frequently. The answer was the Shavehorse

Using a small shavehorse
Using a small shavehorse
Photo thanks to Wikimedia Commons, User: Simon Speed

As with most of these old time crafts the art of working green timber has been with us a long time, but it does seem to be having a bit of a revival. Every green woodworker starts off by making their own tools so as a result there would be no such thing as a shop bought shavehorse.

Making a wooden spoon with a drawknife
Making a wooden spoon with a drawknife
Photo thanks to Wikimedia Commons, User: valerie-everett

As the name suggests the drawknife is pulled towards the body. The photo above shows the size of the tool, but it is by no means just a roughing in tool, it can indeed quickly turn split timber into round sections ready for working with a lathe, but as this photo shows it can be used for small detailed work.

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